1964-10-22 - Project Virgo: Wayward Sons
Summary: Time for the Buckies to go home.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
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bucky rogue 


"Can we expect any other kinds of response? A killswitch, a dead man's switch, perimeter function, or they break out into spontaneous song and dance if the right song plays?" Kess isn't fooling around with her suggestions and one of the functionaries of SHIELD frowns at her ideas. Still, the scriveners do their work with notes and shorthand. Perimeter is an ugly business, established by the Soviets to make an all-out attack if all things were doomed over the USSR. Nothing like a final automatic trigger of all their ICBMs. Everyone has to love that.


Bucky spreads his hands. "I don't know. I'm the crude prototype, and while my programming's been quarantined, I know I've not touched all of it. I've got that open compliance state, the deeper layers concerning objectives - 's why Winter went back to trying to kill Steve when he'd, we'd gotten out of SHIELD custody again. I've got a shutdown failsafe, which I'm not a hundred percent sure works on them. My guess is that the less of their conditioning broken, the better it'll work on them. But I'm sure they've refined things since me. So….nothing's off the table, not with certaintly." He hates admitting it, knowing that's a likely death sentence. But the sheer damage they could cause on their own…


Kess bites her nail. Bad habit, occasionally coming up. "Great. Just more for the psychiatrists to analyse and psychoanalysis to fail to review. In other words, we've got no idea of what we might be dealing with. They told you names, then, or is this your name for them? You imply you don't know for sure if he was called that." One might assume an agent like her knows whether or not they're labelled more than A, B, C, D, or E. Doesn't come into question here, then. "Same level of talents demonstrated as your own? Anything coming out of their sleeves we weren't anticipating?"


"I was given names. I assume those were names granted by whoever was caring for them," Buck says, leaning back. "Kyr and Adam referred to each other that way. Orel gave me his name. And they, in turn, named Nikita. Basically, the three unconscious ones - one of those is Nikita. The other two, I I don't know the names. The missing seventh one is called Lazar, partnered with Nikita. They said he's a ghost."


Kess has a pretty decent poker face, all told. She sits back in the chair, assessing Bucky across the table. "Kyr, Adam, Orel. Nikita. Lazar. They're all Russian." That to the gentleman to her left urges him to bang along on the notes. She tucks the thin strands behind her ear back, and scratches at her neck. "So here's where we are. A handful of soldiers running amok when not bundled up. You have opinions on this, obviously. On the soldiers, on the site. It goes without saying this is beyond most standard clearance. This is not open to discussion for anyone less than level five clearance."


"Understood," he says, with an inclination of his head. He's still only level 4 himself, but. "And yes, I do, obviously." Buck just meets her gaze, expression mild, guileless.


Well, levels exist in a pile of collections. Kess waves her hand. "Then give your seasoned opinion. I promise you nothing but it helps me to understand your background."


Bucky worries at his lip for a moment. "I don't know exactly what form of deprogramming these guys were undergoing. It seems to've worked, at least to some extent on Adam and Kyril. Kyr," he corrects himself. "But….I was able to resist because I had persistent memories. I had a life before Siberia, pieces that could be reassembled. I've only really been dealing with Matvei, here in New YOrk, and I can't say I've gotten very far. There's no common ground - as far as I could tell when I first interacted with him, the concept of individual identity as pertaining to people who look liks us was alien. That said, even though they don't know who or what I am to them….I am very concerned about their welfare, and willing to do whatever's necessary to help the ones we have. And stop them making more."


The scratch of pens and distant chimes of typewriters capturing every word form a persistent kind of silence, that uncomfortable wool sweater wrapping around a person. Kess doesn't much veer from listening. Active listening is a talent, after all, that engages every sense. Hearing words, stilling sounds, eye-contact all prevail. "Hmm. So no common sense. Sounds like they were given a different background than you. All speculation there. We'll have a conversation about where you come in after we get a few things cleared."


"Right. No false memories implanted, so far's I can tell. Matvei thinks he has parents, but he couldn't tell you their names, or where he really comes from. So….I'm only scratch beginnings. They don't look like perfect twins of mine, so clearly they've been tampering with the formula." Which makes him so very uneasy, it's clear.


Kess taps her fingers on the side of the legs. "You know, not all twins look the same. Fraternal twins can have similar appearances, not the same features exactly. Same with children. You get those ones who are nearly doppelgangers, and just a little bit different. Don't think too hard over that with your evening nightcap, though."


He nods at that. "I figure," he says, quietly. Buck shifts in his seat. "Anyway. Whatever I can do. The Director's set it up so I'm a real boy now, SHIELDwise," he adds, "In a day or so, anyway. I'm entirely at your disposal." He keeps glancing towards the exit, clearly wanting to go sniff over each captive in turn, see how they're faring.


"A real boy." Kess rolls her eyes at that. "Let's review. You came out of the cold wastes of Siberia, showed up here, and refused to take a break ever since you showed up. You're a wind-up toy with no way to unwind, and the more anxious or embroiled you get, the more it turns your key. Take a word of advice. You're never gonna be quite content sitting by when there's something to do. Director may know it too. Probably something in the water. That's the way it looks over here, you know?"


Which assessment gets a little moue of acknowledgement. "Well, you've got my number," he admits, sounding closer to amused than aggrieved. "That's always how I was when I was SSR. And that's how it was in Russia - no time off for good behavior." Year to year, seeing nothing but concrete and snow and trees, unless he was on a mission….and then it was only the hunt. "And I'm sure the Director knows it."


Kess shrugs her shoulders, the functionaries capturing this too. She isn't one for effusive outpourings of appreciation, either way. "Just a word of advice. Get yourself grounding in a deep cause. Don't let it only be work. There are guys here like that." Their names rhyme with Soul and end in Son, for example. "They eat, drink, and piss the SHIELD life. That's fine, but boy, they forget there may be other great things in the universe too. Peppers stuffed with cream cheese. Having an annual holiday to the Jersey Shore, Christmas at a cabin in the borscht belt. Head full of fantasies of being an agent, keeping the perimeter safe, that's all well and good but not much if we only let that be our idea. Sort of the dead soldier walking theory in action, what some of the shrinks proposed after Korea and they've been tinkering with ever since. You don't know what you're fighting for if you don't live it and all that."


Bucky's face softens. "I read you," he agrees, more quietly. "And….I'm working on it. I've got friends here. Steve's alive and he's doing just that. That's what I want them - those kids - to have, in the end. They don't have to give two tin shits for the fate of James Barnes, but….to have a genuine choice, instead of living like attack dogs in kennels, knowing nothing else? At least the guys in Canada seemed to be working on that…."


"You don't know jackshit about them. Remember that. It's not a compromise for what you want, or whatever you hope to have happen," Kess chews a little on the words. Her caution is a thing delivered deadpanned. "You might get love for interference, or hate for it, but you've got a stake in the game. As long as you know what your stake is. Canada isn't your clearance level and I'm not the one whose gonna compromise her values to set you straight. You want a stake in what they're doing or trading away? Convince the Director, I suppose, and that's all I've got to say. If they decide to grind them all up and erase their files like nothing happened, that's how it goes."


Oh, there's that little flicker of defiance at that. It'll do him no good at all in the agency to have a rep for playing on old friendship with Peggy, and he knows it. A tilt of his head in acquiescence, if not actual agreement. Peggy….whatever she's become in the near two decades since they were gallivanting around western Europe blowing up Nazis, it's something far bigger than one soldier can divert with a pleading look.


True, it's more than that. But no organisation lives and dies solely by principles, so much as personal relationships. Whatever tries men's souls in this particular crisis, the valor of the summer patriot isn't about ot be overlooked. There is a richness of consolation to be found in support, in doom, in damn work. Kess waves her hand. "Any other observations you might want to contribute to this drinking session? And here I don't even have a bottle of anything."


Bucky's curl of lips is rueful. "None that I can think of at the moment. If they're like me, they like that awful Russian tea I brought in for Matvei. Am I allowed to see any of the others besides him, if this is above my paygrade?"


"Not til they finish up with assessments. Who knows how long that'll take. Get your request in early in triplicate. You won't be getting near the wounded ones until the docs and shrinks have their say, which we have no timeline for. It'll be sometime before the apocalypse and after dinner." Kess scowls at that. "So don't get your hopes up or your jimmies in a knot when invariably it drags on."


"I know how bureaucracy works. Especially here. I was SSR," he points out, no wise dismayed. "Still technically am, I suppose."


"I'm sure we can find someone to paint that arm or doctor up your papers. That'd be a whole lot more convenient, given all things." Kess doesn't mince words. She pushes the chair back, and straightens, hand resting on her hip. Not the sidearm, anyways.


Bucky looks at the arm. That gleaming betrayal, an alloy tree rooted in him and woven in. "God, I sure could use a cover. The Russians tried to make one that'd let me pass - that's why it's got human contours." He curls, the plates flex and slide, feigning the bunch of bicep and deltoid. "Never succeeded. I suppose I could ask Mr. Stark."


"Better than gloves. They seem to think we should wear those still to the theatre. Opera length gloves don't help at all." Putting her hand on the table, Kess steadies herself as she gets up. The functionaries hang back, still taking notes. Work before exit, after all. "Stark seems to have enough answers."


"Family tradition," he says, without hesitation. "His dad did. I saw that first flying car prototype he did back in '43. And Tony's even crazier than Howard."


"That doesn't give me a whole lot of hope. I remember Howard drunk at a Christmas party." That's the nice way to put it. Dropping LSD could be a beginning, and maybe not. "Let's make the most of what we got. Get yourself processed or whatever the hell you do when you check in. I'm off for a shower, coffee, and a nap, maybe not in that order."


"Ma'am," he says, politely. Only once she's departed does he heave himself up. Might nap himself - there are empty rooms with bunks in them. Hell, spare cells, if he feels like tempting fate.


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